Hampstead Heath’s dog walkers will be given a zone under new restrictions
New licence scheme introduced
Friday, 8th October 2021 — By Dan Carrier
NEW restrictions on walking dogs on Hampstead Heath have been introduced by the common land’s managers, the City of London.
It means people paid to walk dogs will have to buy a £300-a-year licence, not walk more than four dogs at any one time, work no more than five days a week and be given one of seven designated areas to use.
The plans were confirmed last week at a meeting of the City’s Heath Management Committee.
Originally due to be brought in April, the City delayed the project and have also tweaked the scheme by raising the number of licences available.
Originally, the City had planned on issuing 40 licences – but lobbying from dog walkers has seen the number rise to 70 a year. Dog care firms who rely on the Heath to exercise other people’s pets warned the boom in dog ownership over the pandemic meant greater demand for their services as people returned to work.
The Heath’s acting superintendent Richard Gentry told the meeting: “There were concerns expressed by the [Hampstead Heath Dog Walkers] Association with lockdown and the changes in how people were working. There is a need for dog walkers in the community and they felt we were not fully engaged with them at first.”
He added the new plans took into account lengthy discussions with dog walkers and the City had responded to concerns.
Creating the new zones saw Heath staff turn to technology similar to gizmos used to track Premier League footballers’ performances.
They created a “heat map” of the Heath, tracking where dogs were commonly walked, and revealing popular trails. Drawing on this, they have split the open space into the seven designated zones to control numbers and each licensee will be allocated a specific zone to use.
Mr Gentry added: “By introducing zones, it means the numbers of dog walkers will be split across the Heath.”
In order to receive a licence, dog walkers will need public liability insurance of a minimum £2m in liability, a health and safety assessment, two character references and to let the City know how much experience the walker has working with animals.
The licence holders will also have to reveal how they plan to travel to the Heath – and whether they have any dog-related criminal convictions.